Ottawa is still Alfredsson's home

Daniel Alfredsson officially ended his All-Star playing career Thursday, in Ottawa, of course, a market he owned seemingly forever. And, really, he still does.

The franchise hasn't been around as long as most, but the modern-day Ottawa Senators have Alfredsson's fingerprints all over them.

"He was everything for that team basically since the first day he put that jersey on,'' former teammate Wade Redden told ESPN.com this week.

Alfredsson won the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 1995-96 and never looked back. For nearly two decades, he was the rock-solid star player who was the face of the franchise through thick and thin. And he was the glue for the organization on and off the ice.

"Everything went through him; he communicated with the owner, he communicated with the GM, he communicated with everybody," said former teammate Jason Spezza. "He was there from day one. He had seen it all. I think at times they'd [owner and front office] ask him for advice on how to run things because he had seen the good, the bad and the ugly.

"He's a fixture there, and I think he'll probably be back there as a fixture, too. He's such a good influence on the organization that I think they'll be able to get water under the bridge and get him involved.''

Between Alfredsson and Dany Heatley, Spezza centered the greatest forward line in Senators history, without question. It was a period early in Spezza's career that brings back fond memories.

"It was special,'' Spezza said this week of that big line. "You felt like we would do it forever. It ended quicker than it should have, probably. We had great chemistry; boy, we felt like we could score 2-3 goals a night. There was no point in any game where we felt we couldn't come back. We definitely had a lot of confidence back then. We worked off each other so well.

"Alfie protected the puck so well and was very poised, I tried to find the seams, and Heater was the pure, cock-it-back and one-time it. He had the great release. We were just a great fit for each other. Partly it was also because they stuck with us, too. We got to learn to play together and we learned to get out of slumps together, too.''

Heatley produced back-to-back 50-goal seasons while part of that line and, like Spezza, his memories of Alfredsson revolve in part around being part of that incredible offensive trio.

"Just playing with him and getting to know him and Spezz, it's pretty uncommon these days where you're playing with two guys for that long a time," Heatley said over the phone from Anaheim this week. "I don't think you see it very often anymore. To play with those guys, just the way they played, we were a dangerous line. Spezz the playmaker and Alfie [was] a guy that could do it all. I look back on those years as a lot of fun.''

It's ironic, in many ways, that the three players on that big line all left Ottawa under controversial circumstances. Heatley and Spezza both asked for trades, while Alfredsson left via free agency to sign a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings in 2013 after a very public contract squabble.

All is forgiven now for Alfredsson. He's a Senator for life, as owner Eugene Melnyk confirmed again during the news conference Thursday morning that the Swedish star has a job in the organization if he wants one when he's ready.

"Alfie is a first-class guy," said Spezza, who was traded to the Dallas Stars over the summer. "The way he conducted himself off the ice, he had time for people always. He approached the game very professionally; he was a great teammate who was always accessible; he was a bit of a father figure in the dressing room, giving a bit of advice; and he was a calming influence. He wasn't a very emotional or outspoken guy. He always was very poignant.

"He was a special guy to be around. The way he played the game at such a high level for such a long time I think is a testament to how smart he was, because not many guys late in their 30s can still control the game the way he could.''

To understand Alfredsson's impact on the people around him, consider that Redden decided to fly from Kelowna, B.C., to Ottawa on Wednesday to make sure he could be there for the big night.

"I just thought I'd want to be there, and be there for Alfie,'' said Redden. "He was a great player and a great guy. His mentality, the way he approaches the game, his work ethic, that's what kept him around all those years. Just a good, solid guy.''

Alfredsson had 1,157 points (444 goals, 713 assists) in 1,246 career games, and Spezza says that's worthy of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"If I had a vote, I would vote for him to get into the Hall of Fame," said Spezza. "He had a great career internationally. If we could have won [a Stanley Cup] in 2006 or 2007, he'd be a surefire Hall of Famer just because of his body of work.

"He did it for a long time. Being around him day to day, when you think of a Hall of Fame guy that's a classy guy and carried himself the right way, he's the type of guy you want in hockey's history books.''

Heatley summed Alfredsson up nicely.

"He was a really good guy, just fun to be around every day,'' said Heatley. "Just a guy who always played hard, played a lot, and always produced and put up numbers while playing in all situations. I'm sad that he's ending it, but he's had a great career and I'm happy I got to play with him.''

That comment is echoed, no doubt, by many of Alfredsson's former teammates, a testimony not only to his hockey skills but also, perhaps more importantly, to his character and class.